Now that Pikeville, Tenn., voters have approved selling liquor in package stores and by the drink, city officials have to set rules for how such sales will work.
Mayor Philip Cagle said Wednesday that city leaders are anxious to start work but don't yet have pertinent information from the state's Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which oversees alcohol sales.
"We're going to be meeting Monday night, and we've got a lot of stuff to discuss about this thing," Cagle said of the Board of Aldermen. "I myself want to set down some really strict guidelines on it."
The mayor said capital investment, state requirements and local tweaks will weed out all but the most serious investors.
Cagle said the city has had a few inquiries about alcohol-oriented business opportunities, but that "they're just waiting to hear from us."
City voters on Nov. 6 passed two referendums -- liquor by the drink, 260 to 241, and package sales, 286 to 211. That was two years after they turned down both, election records show.
Alcoholic Beverage Commission spokeswoman and attorney Ginna Winfree said cities have the most control over package stores, though they also can establish some regulations for liquor-by-the-drink establishments.
Pikeville can restrict the number of package stores, limit licenses to city residents, set distance boundaries from schools, parks and churches and charge application fees, Winfree said.
Liquor-by-the-drink rules usually are simpler. Towns can regulate issues such as owners' length of residency and zoning, she said.
Local restaurant Los Panchos, so far, is the only business in town to show interest in serving liquor by the drink, according to Cagle.
Los Panchos owner Alejandro "Alex" Orizaba said he's anxious to get started on meeting requirements and staff training, but adding alcohol to the menu won't change his restaurant's family atmosphere.
"I want to keep it just as it is, a family restaurant, but I want to be able to offer more things to my customers. Some people want to have a margarita with their Mexican meal," Orizaba said.
Orizaba, a bartender for about 10 years and a restaurateur for 15, said he appreciates his patrons and wants to assure them he knows how to operate his business professionally.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...